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Dear Dr. Vinny,

So how many bottles are there in a lot of wine?

—Vito G., New York

Dear Vito,

A “lot” of wine isn’t the same thing as “a lot” of wine. I’ve mostly seen the term used two different ways in relation to wine. First off, wines sold at auction are sold in “lots,” which can mean anything from a single bottle to an entire collection. An especially rare or valuable bottle might be auctioned on its own, as a single-bottle lot, or a lot might be made up of a group of similar wines.

“Lots” are also a way to refer to batches of wine. Sometimes a winemaker might keep some components separate during winemaking—perhaps different types of grapes, different portions of a vineyard, or different “passes” of picking (when some grapes are harvested but others are left on the vine to ripen further). The separate lots could be blended together, but they also might be bottled solo, and then you might see the lot referred to on the label.

Keep in mind that this term isn’t regulated, so some winemakers might use it just for marketing, as a way to make a bottling seem special or hand-picked. I took a peek in our Wine Search database, and in the last year we’ve seen wines with the term “lot” on their label that refer to anywhere from 600 bottles to more than 160,000 bottles produced—that’s quite ... a lot!

—Dr. Vinny

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